Barcode Noir is a play on words which rejects the Code Noir, a European, French dictated document which is the backbone of oppression, torture, violation of human rights and crime against blacks traded from the African slave exportation ports of Ouidad, Elmina, Ile de Gorée and Cabo Verde to the Americas. A document that institutionalized prejudice and genocide, this legal code still haunts humanity...
Louis XIV's Code Noir was born along capitalism, an economic system based on "free" markets and private ownership, carried on slave shoulders. The Haitian people were maimed by a Code Noir designed to mutilate in this world and the next, conceived to deprive them of the birthright to exist and to live. Heroically, the people boldly rejected the ineradicable branding and embraced freedom daringly, fighting a daily war, willing to die to bequest future generations a legacy of life. Haiti still struggles with its implementation.
On the other hand, Barcode Noir plays on myriad interpretations of the barcode icon, a symbol of trade, emblematic of the marketplace.
Four centuries later it's a black code, the barcode, an elusive inventory catalog, register, record and price for the sale of any object in the markets. Barcoding our identities, our names and our lives are registered in a global roll call, which defines a disproportionate monetary contribution, and the uneven compensation for labor. Behind the corporate veil, this system must not house slaves anymore.
In our depiction, the barcode and the underlying dates subtly fluctuate with the colors of the Haitian Flag and is perceived monochromatic at a distance, a trompe l'oeil. Haiti declared independence from France on January 1, 1804. The Haitian flag was composed of blue and red vertical stripes. Integrating both colors is a proposal for unification: Joining together blue, black Haitians, and red, mulatto Haitians.
A fused barcode blends into an understated painting inviting integration. Representative are the years on the maquette, times of legendary personages like Makandal 1751, Boukman and L'Ouverture 1791, Charlemagne Peralte 1915, dates of liberation 1791, and independence 1804, dates of democratic elections 1990 and of this year's earthquake 2010, an event which turns the world's eyes back to Haiti. Six indelible dates essential to their history and their identity propose a history class for the children of Haiti and for a disregarding world, one overlooking Haiti's poignant ordeal.
In the aftermath of the earthquake, 2010 is the year of opportunity, conveying openness and, receptivity. Base Paint, project and documentary, opens a path for the optimism of art and the strength of creativity and learning to come together when a group of international artists and the children, new generations of Haiti, join in a novel classroom experiment.